2015: We’re Honored

A look back at a year filled with accolades for students and faculty

Honored students and faculty

We hate to boast, but... scratch that—we love to boast! And in 2015 our faculty members and students gave us plenty to brag about. From winning enough publication awards to wallpaper an entire room, to being recognized for research that is changing the face of engineering—we have the laurels to prove that NYU Tandon School of Engineering is a dynamic place to study, research, and collaborate. Read on to learn more about why we’re so proud of our students and professors.


IEEE Conference Honors Student Research

Zizhong Cao, an Electrical Engineering doctoral student, was the recipient of the IEEE INFOCOM’s Best Paper Award for 2014. INFOCOM is a conference held by IEEE that focuses on computer communications and traffic management over wired and wireless networks. Cao is also a part of the research team at the Center for Advanced Technology and Telecommunications (CATT) and the NYU WIRELESS research center.

Winning Research on Wearable Robots

Henry Clever, a Mechanical Engineering doctoral student, was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Grant for his work at the intersection of robotics and human energy expenditure. Working under the mentorship of Associate Professor Joo H. Kim, Clever has been working on practical applications of robotics in hopes of accelerating the development of better-performing and lower-cost assistive devices.

Rising Star in STEM

Diana Guzman—a longtime participant in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)—was honored at the organization’s inaugural gala with the Evelyn Kamen Rising Star Award. Named after the mother of the group’s founder (who spent much of her life as a teacher), the award recognized Guzman’s efforts to advance science, technology, engineering, and math education in underserved communities throughout New York City. Guzman, who got to rub elbows with fellow honorees Mike Bloomberg and music star will.i.am, works as a mentor at Tandon’s Center for K12 STEM Education when not studying for her ultimate goal of joining NASA as an astronaut.

Energizing Poly SHRM

Rohith Rai, a graduate of Tandon’s Organizational Behavior, Systems and Analytics program, was honored with the Harry Sherman Award from the Human Resources Association of New York. During his time at Tandon, Rai reinstituted the school’s Society for Human Resource Management student chapter, PolySHRM. Rai organized events for the chapter while recruiting fellow students, vastly increasing the club’s visibility.

Joining “Generation Google”

Catherine “Catt” Small, an Integrated Digital Media student, received the Generation Google Scholarship, which involves a $10,000 award as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the Google Scholar’s Retreat. Small has founded multiple organizations as a web designer and game developer including the Tech Under Thirty, a networking group for young designers, developers, and engineers as well as the Brooklyn Gamery, focusing on creating high quality games while utilizing experimental technology.

A Two-Time Scholarship Winner

Steven Zeltmann won a Chris Conklin Student Scholarship from Cablevision. Making the honor even more noteworthy is the fact that 2015 marked the second consecutive year that the company bestowed that generous award on the mechanical engineering student. The scholarship competition is open to dependents of Cablevision employees, and Zeltmann is eligible because his father, Mike, has been a database administrator at the company for almost two decades.

15 Students Awarded SAME Scholarships

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) awarded 15 Civil and Urban Engineering students each $1000 scholarships. SAME unites construction, engineering, and architecture, and environmental entities in both the public and private sectors to prepare for and overcome natural and manmade disasters. Well-deserved congratulations go to: Leifu Wang, Mark Milkis, Judith Zhao, Tomasz Bartosiewicz, Colby C. Bennardo, Rosa Lo, Kris Perez, Nissim Elmann, Danielle Mohammed, Elizabeth Jule, Jimmy Liang, Camila Cavalcante, Clement Pikner, Shannon Lynn Karttowsky, and Wantian Lin.



Former President and Chancellor Honored in Hong Kong

Professor Emeritus David Chang, the 9th president of what was then known as Polytechnic University was honored by Hong Kong Polytechnic University who will be presenting Chang with an honorary degree. Chang, known in his field for his work with electromagnetics, became the second Asian-American President in the U.S. when he began at Polytechnic University in 1994.

Professors Honored for Radar Systems, Electrical Transformers, and More

Two professors of electrical engineering, Francisco De Leon and Unnikrishna Pillai, have been named to the distinguished group of fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for their contributions to radar systems and electrical transformers. De Leon is the author of more than 100, highly cited, scholarly papers while Pillai has authored and coauthored five textbooks.

NYU Researcher’s “Time Machine” for Analyzing Computer Code Honored by R&D Magazine

Computer Science and Engineering Professor Brendan Dolan-Gavvit was named as one of the 2015 R&D 100 Awards and Technology Conference winners. Professor Dolan-Gavvit was awarded for his development of an open-source Platform for Architecture-Neutral Dynamic Analysis (PANDA). The system is still being worked on in collaboration with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University.

DARPA Young Faculty Award

Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Semiha Ergan received the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, presented to rising research stars at U.S. academic institutions to introduce them to Department of Defense needs, so that they might develop their research ideas in the context of national security. She will be working to understand the interrelations between neuroscience and built environment, and the degree to which the built environment contributes to increased human performance and context awareness. Such an understanding is critical, she explains, since 90% of time in a typical day is spent indoors, and architectural features impact the productivity, health and comfort of occupants.

IEEE Information Theory Society Gets a New Officer

Elza Erkip, a professor of electrical and computer engineering was recently elected the second vice president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Theory Society. Erkip is widely recognized for her research on wireless networks and in 2018, she will take the presidency of the society. Erkip has also been a recipient of the NSF’s CAREER Award, and IBM Faculty Partnership Award, and was among Thomson Reuters 2014 Edition of Highly Cited Researchers.

Going Above and Beyond for Her Students

Professor Phyllis Frankl of the Computer Science and Engineering Department received the 2015 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, which honors a commitment to students and active learning. Professor Frankl has been noted to go above and beyond—both inside and outside the classroom—to help and engage with her students.

Pioneering Work on Provenance Research

Professor Juliana Freire of the Computer Science and Engineering Department was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM is the largest education and scientific computing society. Professor Freire was awarded fellowship for her advances in management, integration, analysis, and visualization of big data, work that is widely cited that estimate we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day.

Paper Honored for Lasting Value

Each year, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Communications Society gives an Award for Advances in Communication to one outstanding paper of lasting value published in its journals during the previous 15 calendar years. The recipient of the 2015 award was “Efficient Power Control via Pricing in Wireless Data Networks,” a seminal paper co-authored in 2002 by Presidential Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering David Goodman. The paper—written at a time when cellular networks were increasingly being used to send data like photos and text messages—was among the first to apply game theory to the process of wireless transmission.

A Much-Honored Military Veteran and Longtime Professor Adds another Laurel to His Collection

Professor of Construction Engineering and Management Fletcher “Bud” Griffis was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). Griffis, a retired U.S. Army colonel, has served as national director for the organization. During his time in the army, Griffis supervised multiple construction projects in Eastern Asia and in 1983 he was named head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District where he oversaw projects such as early-warning radar systems to flood-prevention programs.

Methane Research with the Potential for Greener Energy, Manufacturing

Ryan Hartman, an assistant professor who joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering this past summer, was awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) most prestigious honor for young researchers, the CAREER Award. Hartman received the award of more than $500,000 (to be disbursed over the next 5 years) to research methane and its potential to lead to greener energy.

The Prizes Don’t Fall Far from the Binary Tree

John Iacono, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering was awarded the distinguished Fulbright Research Fellowship to continue to his study of algorithms in binary trees. He will spend the 2015-2016 academic year with Stefan Langerman and members of the Algorithms Research Group at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Honored for His Contributions to NYU

Vikram Kapila, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was honored with the 2014-2015 NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Kapila’s contributions are numerous, but the largest is centered on K-12 STEM education. He is currently directing K-12 education, training, and mentoring programs throughout New York City that reach more than 1,100 students each year. He also recently received a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to implement robotics into the learning curriculum in middle schools throughout New York.

Studying Energy Expenditure in Robotic Systems

Joo H. Kim, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was selected by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to receive the Freudenstein/General Motors Young Investigator Award for his research regarding energy expenditure in robotic systems. Working with student researchers, Kim developed a system that measures and analyzes the energy expenditure of robots with unprecedented accuracy. This work will hopefully allow robots to mimic naturally efficient humans in the near future.

Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Has a Banner Year

Constantine Kontokosta, who serves as the Deputy Director for Academics at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), garnered numerous laurels from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015. Among them are an IBM Faculty Award, best-paper honors from the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange, election as a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and a $150,000 prize in the Real Green Research Challenge. Most of those honors stem from his work in urban informatics, a field that seeks to use data to better understand how cities work. Kontokosta is the Principal Investigator and Head of the CUSP Quantified Community research facility, a groundbreaking project that will create data- and sensor-enabled urban neighborhoods in New York City to catalyze the use of data to support urban planning and design.

NSF Award will Advance Research on How Radio Waves Interact with the Body

Assistant Professor Riccardo Lattanzi received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award, commonly known as the CAREER Award. Lattanzi has been recognized for his research to develop a better understanding of how radiofrequency electromagnetic fields interact with biological tissue and its use for practical applications. As part of the award, Lattanzi will receive more than $500,000 over the next 5 years to continue his research.

An Innovative Use for LEGO

Doctoral candidate Jeffrey Laut, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Vikram Kapila, and Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Magued Iskander won the 2014 Ray H. Spiess Award from the Computers in Engineering Division (CoED) of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). The honor is awarded to an outstanding paper on mobile teaching aids and computation techniques. The trio show in their paper how middle school teachers can implement robotics into their classroom lessons.

Optics and Photonics Society Honors Nasir Memon

Professor Nasir Memon has been elected as a fellow to the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) for his work in multimedia security and lossless image compression. Memon is the head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the Tandon School of Engineering and is an affiliate faculty member at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Computer Science Department.

In Honor of a Beloved Chemist

Associate Professor Jin Kim Montclare of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has garnered the 2015 Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award from Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry. Named for a founding member of the organization, the award is given to a researcher under the age of 40 who has made significant contributions in her field.

Major Funding for Collective Behavior Research

A group of scholars led by Technology Management and Innovation Professor Oded Nov were awarded funding for research on collective behavior by the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative. The $100,000 funding was awarded on the basis that the research has a potential for significant impact.

Keith O'Brien Becomes the First Recipient of the CSE Best Adjunct Professor Award

Adjunct Professor Keith O’Brien of the Computer Science and Engineering Department was awarded the department’s first Best Adjunct Professor Award. O’Brien has been serving as an adjunct professor at the Tandon School of Engineering since 2009 while working as a Distinguished Systems Engineer at Cisco Systems. O’Brien is a specialist in cybersecurity, focusing on software networks, network forensics, and secure network design.

A Baker’s Dozen Urban Transportation Solutions

NYU Tandon Professor Kaan Ozbay and collaborators presented 13 separate research papers at the annual National Academies Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference in Washington D.C. The TRB is one of the most prestigious international events focused on the issues of transportation, drawing over 12,000 policy makers, administrators, urban planners, and others to this year’s event. Professor Ozbay and his team came away from the event winning Best Paper from the TRB Urban Freight Transportation Committee.

NSF Award to Make Privacy Second Nature

Sameer Patil, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received the $175,000 Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) from the National Science Foundation. EAGER awards support research in early development that has great potential. Patil is attempting to bring awareness of privacy laws to software developers through the use of big data.

Professor Honored for Good (Mechanical) Vibrations

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) named Mechanical Engineering Professor Maurizio Porfiri the 2015 C.D. Mote, Jr. Early Career Award Winner. Porfiri was honored for his research involving mechanical vibrations, namely for his efforts to explain interactions between fluid flows and dynamics of nautical and aerospace structures.

Porfiri was also recently awarded a $610,000 PIRE grant from the National Science Foundation to fund teams of students to travel to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to participate in projects involving soft robotics. The grant is intended to fund student’s travel and stay expenses for the next five years.

A Towering Figure in the Wireless Industry Is Honored for His Seminal Work as a Researcher and Teacher

The IEEE Communications Society awarded Professor Ted Rappaport the 2015 Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award for his extensive contribution and outstanding leadership in channel measurement and technology research that is fundamental to mobile communication.

Rappaport, the David Lee/Ernest Weber Professor at the Tandon School of Engineering as well as the founder of NYU WIRELESS, was also feted by the Wireless Telecommunications Symposium Committee, which named him outstanding educator of the year and honored him with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Wireless Communications.

Distinguished, Dedicated, and Dynamic

The Department of Civil and Urban Engineering’s Professor Anne Dudek Ronan was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award at the 2015 commencement exercises. Ronan’s devotion to her students is only matched by their devotion to her, as more than a dozen lengthy letters were received commending her for her commitment to student learning.

An Activist for CleanTech

Pat Sapinsley, head of Tandon’s Urban Future Lab, received the 2015 Activist Award from Architectural Record magazine for her work bringing green technology and entrepreneurship together to create sustainable solutions. Sapinsley is also the managing director for many cleantech initiatives and she oversees NYC ACRE, an incubator aiming to grow NYC’s cleantech companies.

Professor Claudio Silva Voted Chair in Prestigious IEEE Committee

Professor Claudio Silva of the Computer Science and Engineering Department was voted to be the chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Visualization and Computer Graphics Technical Committee (VGTC). The committee focuses on the learning and advancement of visualization, computer graphics, virtual and augmented reality, and interaction. Silva’s appointment will last for two years.

Three Faculty Elected to Serve on National and International Professional Organizations

Three professors from the Tandon School of Engineering have been elected to positions in their respective fields. Kurt Becker, Tandon’s Vice Dean for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship was recently named the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council of the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York. Joseph Chow, Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering, was elected as vice-chair of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences which is the largest society of its kind in the world. Lastly, Mary Cowman, Associate Dean for Bioengineering and Professor of Biochemistry and Bioengineering has been elected as the President of the International Society of Hyaluronan Sciences.

Linde Cook
Tandon School of Engineering
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2016
M.S. in Financial Engineering | Class of 2016